Yisro – How to Appreciate Every Jew

This week’s Torah portion of Yisro has the most important event of the Jewish People, Matan Torah – Hashem giving us the Torah on Mount Sinai. Before the Torah was given to the Jewish People, Hashem made a proposal to them, “You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Me. And now, if you hearken well to My voice and observe my covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all people, for Mine is the entire world. You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemos 19:4-6).

The Maalos Hamiddos, by Rav Yechiel ben Yekusiel ben Binyamin the doctor, who lived over 700 years ago, uses this as a basis of showing how Hashem loves the Jews and therefore each Jew should love his fellow Jew. The question is why this is so and how does this help one love his fellow Jew?

The Maalos Hamiddos says, “And just as one is obligated to love His Creator, so to each man has an obligation to love his friend. This is because the Jews are beloved by Hashem more than all the other nations. And because of this love He calls them His children, as it says ‘You are children to Hashem your G-D’ (Devarim 14:1)… And because of this love they are called kings and holy as it says ‘And you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation etc.’ (Shemos 19:6). The Rabbis (Vayikra Rabba 24:8) made a parable about this of the citizens of a country who made 3 crowns for the king. What did the king do? He put one crown on his head and two on his sons’ head. So to every single day the angels serenade the king with 3 expressions of holiness as they say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the G-D of Legions, His honor fills the entire land’ (Yeshaya 6:3). What does Hashem do? He crowns Himself with one and gives the other two to the Jews, as it says, ‘And they will declare Me holy and you will be holy (in plural) because I am holy’ (Vayikra 11:44). The Jews get two “holies” and Hashem one. And because of this love Hashem gave them the Torah which is a potion for life and as long as they are all involved in it no nation can control them. This is a parable, told by the Sages, likened to a king who had an only son from his queen. He also had children from concubines. The king sensed that the children of the concubines were jealous of his son and sought to harm him. The king said to himself, if G-D forbid it will happen what they wish to do to my son, what will be with my kingdom? What did the king do? He got up and brought his son close to him and put an amulet around his neck, so even if he is captured by them, they can’t hurt him. He also put together a kit of food, drink, clothes, medical equipment and even a wagon, so that no poison could cause damage. So to as long as all the Jews are involved in Torah learning, no nation is able to control them.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
The Maalos Hamiddos goes on for another page and a half proving in even more detail how much Hashem loves the Jews. Why is this a reason for each Jew to love his fellow Jew? It can’t be because the Torah says each Jew has an obligation to love his fellow Jew like himself, for he mentions that later, “Since Hashem loved the Jews so much, each Jew must then love each and every Jew like himself, as Moshe warns the Jews, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Vayikra 19:18)”…” Rather, it must be that Hashem is telling us there is a separate obligation for a Jew to love his fellow Jew because Hashem loves us. This seems to be because we have an obligation to emulate Hashem, so just as Hashem is merciful we should be merciful, just as He is gracious we should be gracious, so too just as Hashem loves the Jews we should love our fellow Jew. If that is the case, then why didn’t the Maalos Hamiddos just say that? Why did he go into so much detail about how much Hashem loves us?

The point was for us to analyze how much Hashem loves the Jews and to appreciate how to understand to love our fellow Jew. Let’s analyze the two examples from the Torah portion. Hashem could have only considered us servants of Him, and being servants of the king is pretty important; but how does one servant relate to a fellow servant? However, now that Hashem views us as his children and like kings, that means each one of us are royalty, princes and princesses to the King Of All Kings. Indeed, He is very valiant and treats us with even more respect than Himself by crowning us with two crowns of holiness and Himself with just one. Most people prefer to associate with important people because they are of higher stature and status, so now it’s easier and more realistic to be able to love such special people as ourselves. We aren’t just servants of Hashem we are princes and princesses, people who we would want to associate with and love.

Furthermore, Hashem out of His ultimate love and care created a forcefield around us that we can use at will to protect ourselves from bad influences and control by the outside world. The fact that Hashem went out of His way to make such a thing for His children is quite amazing and unique. It shows how much He cares for His children and again, the realization that each one of us was given this medical kit, or forcefield to protect ourselves makes us very special. People want to appreciate positively special people, especially if we all have the same objectives and goals, all together, which makes us unique. Therefore we see how Hashem has made it easier for us to love our fellow Jew.